Parliament’s Lawyer Shreds Tory Purdah Spin

Europe minister David Lidington has set out the government’s compromise on ‘purdah’ ahead of tonight’s vote – only to have his spin shredded by parliament’s top lawyer. In a damning email leaked to Guido, Speaker’s Counsel Michael Carpenter says Lidington’s arguments against letting the purdah rules apply in full are “unsound“.

One of Lidington’s main arguments against purdah is that “the legal advice we have received suggests that this could extend to individual elected representatives” – i.e. it would gag all MPs in the run up to the referendum. Carpenter dismisses this as “too literal a reading“. MPs would not face restrictions.

Another of Lidington’s key claims is that purdah would stop ministers from conducting European Union business. Carpenter says “I do not share the view“. Lidington suggests that the “full rigour” of purdah would prevent ministers communicating what is going on in Brussels. But Carpenter says the rules “expressly allow the issue of press notices without any restriction as to their content“.

He concludes of the Europe minister: “Mr Lidington seems simply to repeat the unsound arguments advanced before“. That’s two of the government’s main arguments on purdah torn apart by parliament’s top laywer ahead of tonight’s crunch vote…

Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister Struggles With the Law

It seems Labour’s slippery Andy Slaughter is struggling with even the most basic of instructions:

1.1 During the period when Parliament is dissolved before a General Election there are no Members of Parliament. Consequently you may not use that title during this period.

Here is what he is distributing today in Hammersmith:

Awkward for any MP, let alone a Shadow Justice Minister…

Via Peter Graham


UKIP Tell Atkinson to Lawyer Up


Guido hears that suspended MEP Janice Atkinson was told by UKIP’s legal team this morning that there was nothing they could do for her and that she had better get criminal representation very quickly. Apparently Section 6 of the 2006 Fraud Act was the topic of breakfast discussion this morning…

Tory Case Against Reckless Thrown Out

Before Christmas the Tories took Mark Reckless to court in a sour grapes attempt to claw back thousands of pounds spent on campaign literature before he defected to UKIP. Today, the judge has thrown the case out. A doubly expensive defeat…


Stanley Fink to Ed Miliband: Bring It On

Stanley Fink is very angry with Miliband using him as a tax dodging tool to try beat up the PM earlier. He has a pretty good explanation for his Swiss bank account too:

“I challenge you to repeat your allegation outside of the House of Commons – or to withdraw it publically [sic].” 


Mitchell Down Half a Million After Refusing Sun Settlement


Andrew Mitchell’s lawyers are back in court again arguing over how much the former chief whip has to cough up after losing his libel case last year. It has emerged News Group made offer to Mitchell before the libel hearing, but Mitchell turned it down, costing him “at least £500,000” in costs.

Mr Justice Mitling says that because he failed to accept News Group’s offer he should be liable for their costs and those of PC Toby Rowland.


Rotherham Labour MPs Sue UKIP’s Jane Collins For Libel

The loudest cheer at UKIP conference was for the party’s candidate in Rotherham, Jane Collins, who made a series of explosive allegations about several Labour MPs’ alleged involvement in the town’s child abuse scandal. Now Labour’s Rotherham MPs Sarah Champion, John Healey and Kevin Barron are suing her for libel and slander. Her speech had the journalists in the room choking on their coffees…

Reckless Crowdfunds Defence Against Tory Legal Action

“It is almost Christmas: a time for caring, reflection, and forgiveness,” Mark Reckless tells UKIP supporters in a mass email this afternoon, before asking for festive donations to fund his defence against the Tories’ “sour grapes” legal action against him:

“The fact that the Tories are bickering over £3,000 when we all know they may have a £78m election war chest put together by their secretive clubs, and dodgy donors shows that this is just another cynical attack on democracy, on UKIP, and on the British people. It’s time for us to stand up and fight back, don’t you think?”

Judging by UKIP’s recent online fundraising success, E-kippers will cover his costs in no time…

UPDATE: A local Tory association source points out: “Given Mark is a trained barrister and this is a small claims case, we rather assumed that, like us, he would be representing himself. We’re surprised he’s lawyering up.”

Torture ‘Lie’ Lawyers Unrepentant

The best course of action for Public Interest Lawyers, the firm condemned by the government for pursuing false claims that British troops tortured Iraqi detainees, would probably have been a swift apology. Instead, the last post on their Facebook page is a series of articles still insisting the torture claims were true, including an Indy article from October which promoted the now disproven case.[…]


Tories to Sue Mark Reckless

The Tories aren’t letting this one go:

“The Rochester and Strood Constituency Conservative Association have lodged a claim against its former MP Mark Reckless to claw back thousands of pounds it spent on 2015 General Election campaigning literature before he defected to Ukip. 



WATCH: Peter Cook’s Jeremy Thorpe Acquittal Sketch

The night Jeremy Thorpe was acquitted of conspiracy to murder his alleged male lover in 1979, satirist Peter Cook delivered this sketch of Mr Justice Cantley’s summing up at the Secret Policeman’s Ball. Almost as if he thought there was an establishment cover up…[…]


Labour Bury Crap Mini-Reshuffle on Big News Day

It’s taken almost two weeks for Labour to manage to appoint a new Attorney General:



Today in Court: Tory MPs Question Mitchell’s Account


Andrew Mitchell’s former colleagues in the whips’ office do not believe his account of Plebgate, describing it as “extraordinary”, a court heard today. Tory MP John Randall claims “Mr Mitchell told me he could not recall what he said to the officer” in a whips meeting at the time.[…]


Today in Court: Plebgate Cops Describe “Mexican Stand Off”


An “agitated” Andrew Mitchell called policemen “f**king plebs” in a “Mexican stand off” at the gates of Downing Street, it was claimed in court today. PC Toby Rowland claimed he threatened Mitchell with arrest because passers by could have been caused “distress” by his abusive language.[…]


Today in Court: “I Was Ill-Tempered” Says Mitchell But Top Tory Denies “Just F**king Plebs” Jibe

Andrew Mitchell told policemen at the Downing Street gates they were “just f**king plebs” who should “best know your f**king place”, a court heard today. Giving evidence against Mitchell, PC Toby Rowland claimed he did not know what the word “pleb” meant when the then Chief Whip allegedly called him one in September 2012.[…]


Today in Court: Former Tory Whips Will Testify Against Mitchell

Andrew Mitchell “could not recall” what he said to police officers at the gates of Downing Street, courtroom 13 at the Royal Courts of Justice heard today. That is what former Deputy Chief Whip John Randall and former whip Michael Fabricant will testify at the Plebgate libel trial, despite Mitchell providing a verbatim account of the incident to the Sunday Times and telling the court “I would never call a policeman a pleb let alone a f**king pleb”.[…]


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